What was your role before joining Oxford HR?
For over two decades, I have worked at the intersection of the public, private and non-profit sectors in order to prevent and mitigate pressing global issues for executives and key stakeholders across industry, government, and civil society.
Why did you decide to join Oxford HR?
Joining Oxford HR was one of the easiest decisions I have had the pleasure of making. One of the key challenges I have observed across the public, private and non-profit sectors has been the ability to adapt to changing conditions – a critical component of any successful company, agency, or organization. Those who have succeeded have done so with a basis in evidence-driven solutions led by exceptional individuals who have the tact, insight, and leadership capabilities required to bring about meaningful change. When I think about Oxford HR’s objective of supporting for purpose organizations seeking to bring about meaningful change across very challenging issues by identifying exceptional leaders and supporting organizational growth, I felt a deep alignment of mission and identity. I am thrilled at the opportunity to support Oxford HR deepen its existing networks and impact across the Americas.
What key learnings do you think you can bring from the corporate sector into our client’s world of environmental and social impact?
There are several important lessons that both the corporate and the for-purpose sector can bring to each other. From the corporate perspective, one of the approaches that stands out is the approach to leadership and staff succession planning – beyond simply the N/N-2 levels. Clearly this requires resources, both financial and human, allotted to such planning – which can be limited. The result, however, reinforces sustainability and adaptability in the face of change. From the for purposes lens, I have observed a higher level of tolerance for piloting and innovating in ways that reinforce human or social and environmental protections that often can be scaled for impact and adopted by other sectors. This ability to take on small-scale pilots to innovate in the impact space can be a source of adoption for corporate partners. Oxford HR sits at the nexus among different clients and sectors and is able to leverage learning between and among them in ways that may not be otherwise feasible in the normal course of business management. I look forward to continuing to support these types of efforts with our partners.
What qualities do you think make a great leader?
Integrity, diplomacy, accountability, and a genuine interest in the team are some of the top qualities I admire in those I consider to be great leaders.
What issues keep you awake at night?
The global breakdown in social pacts, trust, and intercommunal understanding are among those that cause me the most concern. I spent many years working to prevent and mitigate issues of fragility and conflict. It appears to me that the drivers of these scenarios have become not only more magnified and widespread, but the areas in which they have manifested threaten to bring about nearly insurmountable challenges across every aspect of global sustainable development. Effective leadership has the ability to bring about exceptional outcomes, as we have witnessed countless times on the global stage in history, and also at the local level among grassroots organizations. My hope is that organizations such as Oxford HR can continue identifying and fostering the growth of new leadership and supporting those organizations who aim to help stem the growth of these challenges to drive a positive global outcome.
Dr. Karna Cohen’s two decades of experience working innovatively on how the private, public, nonprofit, security, and technology sectors can work both independently, and in concert, to promote growth and stability in emerging markets has earned her a spot as a trusted advisor to the C-suite. Dr. Cohen specializes in driving and executing strategy, international business development, public policy, strategic initiatives, and ESG/human rights adherence, across numerous industries, often in sensitive contexts. She has led organizations (including her own consulting firm) focused on ESG/CSR, public policy, trade & investment, and conflict mitigation leading to multi-country Presidential Resolutions in support of ESG practices and policies, successful Congressional Resolutions on corporate accountability, US-Africa trade policy endorsed by the Secretary of State, U.S. Presidential acknowledgements in support of global stability efforts, and the successful growth of numerous Fortune 100/500 clients while adhering to explicit ESG and accountability targets.
Dr. Cohen has lived and worked in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and across the Americas, and speaks French, Hebrew, and Danish in addition to her native English. She holds a doctorate in International Development and Technology Studies with a concentration on fragile states.